Once again, the Eagle Nation showed their dedication to the Eagles in record breaking numbers, making it the largest regular-season attendance in Paulson Stadium history with 24,872 fans. Featuring the Bulldogs of The Citadel, this was more than just an old SoCon rivalry game. Most importantly, this game was dedicated to showing support for the military and families of Georgia Southern. “We play as a family. Nobody is bigger than the other person,” mentioned defensive lineman Darrius Sapp. Keeping in line with the “larger” meaning of the game by embodying a “team first” moto, the Eagles easily translated that moto this past Saturday in Paulson Stadium.
The Eagles’ defense was returning to play after limiting the Broncos of Western Michigan to a mere 250 total yards on offense the week before. With the Eagles’ defense clearly setting high standards early in the season, it’s no wonder Bulldogs seemed to be frantically chasing their tails. The Eagles’ defense allowed the Bulldogs 360 total yards on offense but limited them to 13 points. Each game the Eagles’ defense has shown impressive improvement and strength. From the first series of the game to the last, the Eagles’ defense continually evoked characteristics of a shutdown defense.
Coach Curtis has what looks to be a defense with about as much depth as a coach could ask for. “Early in the first half we pretty much played mistake free. We played well,” mentioned Coach Curtis. The Bulldogs would take to the field in a similar version of the triple-option offense that the Eagles’ offense uses. The first series couldn’t have gone any worse for the Bulldogs. There was as offside call and then a couple plays later sophomore defensive end Ross Alexander intercepted the first pass thrown by the Bulldogs’ quarterback, Dominque Allen. The only other times Allen threw in the first half would be for an incomplete pass and another interception. The interception was thrown to Darrius White who returned the ball for 19 yards. The second to last series of the half ended with another turnover caused by the Eagles’ defense. Freshman defensive end Logan Hunt knocked the ball loose from the Bulldogs and the ball was recovered by senior cornerback Riyahd Jones who returned the ball for 13 yards.
“We took a step in the right direction. By in large, particularly through the first three quarters, we looked technique sound and schematically sound,” mentioned Coach Fritz. The first series of the second half would gain the Bulldogs their first points of the game with a 60-yard touchdown run by McField. From that point on, the Bulldogs would fumble two more times. The first fumble was fumble was recovered by Antonio Glover and the second fumble was on the last play of the game recovered by Patrick Flowe. The Bulldogs looked worn down as they went through the second half and seemed outmatched in every regard. The Eagles’ defense held the Broncos’ run game to 318 total yards. The last two plays for the Broncos’ offense were a sack by Ian Bush and Ken Butler and a fumble recovered by Patrick Flowe.
The main factor in stopping the Broncos’ was the defensive line. “It starts up front. They’re the unsung heroes of the team. Whenever you look at great defenses, the defenses have great defensive lines,” Antwione Williams said. In addition, Williams was able to have one of his best performances to date leading the team with nine total tackles.
The Eagles’ defense made it clear; this was going to be a no-nonsense, performance. Throughout the matchup, Coach Curtis displayed the impressive level of talent he has waiting to take the field. There was a steady rotation at almost every position, giving way to players who don’t play as often, and allowing them the opportunity to show their capabilities. One of the players emerging as a young leader is sophomore linebacker, Chris DeLaRosa.
“We want to keep the momentum going,” DeLaRosa said. “Every week we look at it as our Super Bowl. Going into conference play its going to be even more crucial. We take our opponents seriously.”